‘Castrovalva’ (TV)



Please feel free to comment on my review.

The Fifth Doctor Begins

This has to be my favourite season out of the entire ‘Doctor Who’ series!

After the success of the Season 12 Blu-ray box set of ‘Doctor Who’ with Tom Baker, it was inevitable there would be more complete box sets of ‘Doctor Who’ seasons from the classic series on Blu-ray. Thankfully there was and I was excited that the next one would be on Season 19 with Peter Davison!

I saw the ‘A Message From Jovanka Airlines’ trailer for the Season 19 Blu-ray box set with Janet Fielding as Tegan via YouTube. 😀 Peter Davison and Sarah Sutton were in that advert too and I was so excited to see a preview of the various brand-new special features that would be on the new Blu-ray box set.

There would be brand-new documentaries on some of my favourite ‘Doctor Who’ stories from Season 19 and they would feature brand new behind-the-scenes cast and crew interviews. These would be new interviews with Peter Davison, Sarah Sutton, Janet Fielding and Matthew Waterhouse.

The Blu-ray box set of Season 19 of ‘Doctor Who’ is an 8-disc set. The first seven discs contain each of the seven stories of the season including ‘Castrovalva’, ‘Four To Doomsday’, ‘Kinda’, ‘The Visitation’, ‘Black Orchid’, ‘Earthshock’ and ‘Time-Flight’. Disc 8 contains brand-new bonus material.

Season 19 of ‘Doctor Who’, now part of ‘The Collection’ on Blu-ray, has a special place in my heart. I was so glad to receive the complete Season 19 on Blu-ray for Christmas 2018. This was the first season for Peter Davison’s Doctor in 1982 and it has my favourite companion, Sarah Sutton as Nyssa.

At around that time in 1982, ‘Doctor Who’ had gone through a massive sea-change. Tom Baker had previously played the role of the Doctor for seven years and everyone loved him. Now Peter Davison was taking over and he was a breath of fresh air in providing a new take on the Time Lord character!

Peter Davison is well-known for playing Tristan Farnon in the BBC TV drama series, ‘All Creatures Great and Small’. Before ‘Doctor Who’, I’d seen Peter Davison in ‘All Creatures’. Thus I knew who he was and what he was like as an actor. I did wonder what he would be like playing the Doctor himself.

Like the production history of ‘Doctor Who’ itself, I watched Season 19 out of order with ‘Earthshock’ being my first experience of the Fifth Doctor TARDIS team with Nyssa, Tegan and Adric. This was also the second season for the John Nathan-Turner era of ‘Doctor Who’ as series producer.

The 1980s period of ‘Doctor Who’ was an era of experimentation on the stories produced. Admittedly the stories themselves would be flawed in terms of production and execution on the TV screen. But somehow for me, there is a sense of charm, magic and wonder about that 1980s period.

The early 1980s period of ‘Doctor Who’, especially during the Peter Davison era, is one that I hold great cherished fondness for. This is especially when Peter Davison was joined by Sarah Sutton, Janet Fielding and Matthew Waterhouse as his companions and having exciting adventures in the TARDIS.

I wish Season 19 saw the Fifth Doctor TARDIS team in stronger and well-thought out storytelling and character development, especially with the changeover of three script-editors during that period. These included Christopher H. Bidmead, Anthony Root and Eric Saward as the show’s script-editors.

But then, not everything’s perfect. Despite the flaws I saw in Season 19 as a whole, I found myself continuing to enjoy the Fifth Doctor, Nyssa, Tegan and Adric and I would be persuaded to enjoy more of them in the Big Finish audios as well as writing my own Fifth Doctor stories based on that TV era.

But why is Season 19 my favourite season of ‘Doctor Who’? Why do I like Peter Davison’s first season as the Doctor with Sarah Sutton as Nyssa, Janet Fielding as Tegan and Matthew Waterhouse as Adric so much, despite all the flaws it has in terms of the storytelling and the character development of our heroes?

Well, let’s take a look! We begin with the four-part story, ‘Castrovalva’!

The story begins with a recap of what happened at the end of the previous story ‘Logopolis’. The Fourth Doctor regenerates into the Fifth! You may have noticed that the incidental music composed by Paddy Kingsland for that scene is different in ‘Castrovalva’ compared to how it was in ‘Logopolis’.

After that recap, we go right into the opening titles sequence for Peter Davison’s era of ‘Doctor Who’. The title sequence is done by graphic designer Sid Sutton. It’s similar to the one used for Season 18 with the star-field, except this time Peter Davison’s face gets used instead of Tom Baker’s.

There’s also the Peter Howell theme music used for the Peter Davison era which I love. The Peter Howell theme music of ‘Doctor Who’ feels very 80s and discotheque and is well-suited to Peter Davison’s Doctor than Tom Baker’s Doctor. It’s also great to hear the theme tune travelling the stars.

Awesome theme music! Anyway, when I first saw ‘Castrovalva’, it was the third story of the ‘New Beginnings’ trilogy on DVD. I purchased the ‘New Beginnings’ DVD box set back in January 2007. It was very surreal watching ‘Castrovalva’ again but now as a part of the Season 19 box set on Blu-ray.

Incidentally, ‘Castrovalva’ was the first story of Season 19 to be shown twice weekly on Mondays and Tuesdays. Beforehand, ‘Doctor Who’ had been shown on Saturdays during the Tom Baker era. But due to the poor ratings of Season 18, it was decided to move the TV show on weekdays instead.

This caused an outcry among viewers who wanted to watch ‘Doctor Who’ on Saturdays and didn’t want to watch it when doing homework on weekdays. This I appreciate since I was disgruntled about ‘Doctor Who’ being shown on Sundays when the first season of Jodie Whittaker’s Doctor was shown.

But despite this disgruntlement, Peter Davison’s first season got higher viewing figures compared to how Tom Baker’s final season of ‘Doctor Who’ got its viewing figures from 1980 to 1981. ‘Castrovalva’ got about over 10 million viewers for three of its episodes during that weekly time-slot.

Anyway, ‘Castrovalva’ is the beginning of a new era of ‘Doctor Who’ as it sets up Peter Davison’s era superbly. This four-part story by Christopher H. Bidmead, former script-editor of the show for Tom Baker’s final season, shapes the Fifth Doctor through his post-regeneration trauma quite splendidly.

This would not have happened if not for one thing. ‘Castrovalva’ wasn’t supposed to be the first story for Peter Davison’s era of ‘Doctor Who’. Originally, the first story was to be something entirely different, which was ‘Project Zeta-Sigma’ by ‘Meglos’ writers John Flanagan and Andrew McCulloch.

But due to the script being unworkable, ‘Project Zeta-Sigma’ was abandoned. Thus ‘Four To Doomsday’ was made in production history first (more on that another time) and ‘Castrovalva’ came in as an emergency from Chris Bidmead. But ‘Castrovalva’ was fourth to be made in the series. Yeah.

Anyway, as you saw in the first video clip, ‘Castrovalva’ follows on directly after ‘Logopolis’ where the Doctor’s three companions, Nyssa; Tegan and Adric help him to escape when being chased by security guards at the Pharos Project on Earth. Soon, the villainous Master catches the four in a trap.

Yep! The Master is still around after appearing in two ‘Doctor Who’ stories beforehand. Incidentally, the ‘New Beginnings’ trilogy is really a trilogy featuring the return of the Master, despite two new companions being introduced; one old Doctor departing and a new Doctor arriving in the three tales.

Adric gets captured by the Master and is used in a powerful hadron web for his evil schemes. With Adric gone, Nyssa and Tegan have to help the brand-new Fifth Doctor out of his post-regeneration trauma and get him to Castrovavla, where it’s a dwelling of simplicity. But will it be really easy to do?

I’ve had the DVD cover of ‘Castrovalva’ signed by Peter Davison at the ‘Regenerations 2016’ convention in Swansea, September 2016 and by Sarah Sutton at the ‘Acceptable In The 80s’ convention in Chiswick; London, October 2011. I’ve also had a lovely photo of Nyssa and the Fifth Doctor from ‘Castrovalva’ signed by Sarah Sutton at the ‘Worcester Comic Con’ back in August 2016.

I really like Peter Davison as the Doctor and how he gets introduced in his first story of ‘Castrovalva’. Peter Davison is one of my favourite Doctors, alongside Christopher Eccleston, David Tennant and Jodie Whittaker. His first story where he recovers from his regeneration is very well-handled indeed.

It put me in mind of David Tennant’s regeneration from ‘The Christmas Invasion’ somehow. I liked the moments when Peter’s Doctor acts like the first three Doctors from William Hartnell to Patrick Troughton to Jon Pertwee. The Doctor is in a box for most of this, but faces the Master at the climax.

I also really like the companions in Peter Davison’s first season of ‘Doctor Who’! Yeah, it’s becomes a crowded TARDIS for Peter Davison’s first season of ‘Doctor Who’. It was intriguing how producer JNT decided to have three companions accompanying Peter Davison’s Doctor in Nyssa, Tegan and Adric.

Sarah Sutton is lovely as Nyssa in this story. I like how Nyssa gets to be resourceful especially during an emergency when the TARDIS tries to escape danger from Event One (The Big Bang). She also forms a friendship with Tegan and I liked the balance of Nyssa’s calmness and Tegan’s fieriness here.

It was also interesting how Nyssa copes after the tragic loss of Traken being destroyed and her father killed and absorbed by the Master. Nyssa soon changes out of her Traken fairy skirt into some practical trousers for the rest of Season 19. She also loses her tiara at one point during ‘Castrovalva’.

Janet Fielding is equally a joy as Tegan in this. Tegan gets a chance to pilot the TARDIS here. However it turns out she didn’t pilot the ship at all to get to the planet where Castrovalva is. She also parks the TARDIS in that awkward position as she and Nyssa climb out with the Doctor in the Zero Cabinet.

I liked those moments in the first episode of the story where Tegan suggests ‘looking up in the index file’ with Nyssa. Tegan gets to show how level-headed and resourceful she can be. She also doesn’t seem very bossy as she would later become in the series in wanting to get back to Heathrow Airport.

Matthew Waterhouse has a bad time as Adric in this story unlike when he was helpful in ‘Logopolis’. He gets used by the Master to do his dirty work, especially when his mathematical skills in creating block transfer computations are utilised to create the world of Castrovalva to trap the Doctor inside.

This is when Adric is trapped inside the Master’s hadron web aboard his TARDIS. Thankfully he’s freed and escapes with the Doctor, Nyssa and Tegan. He looks worse for wear, which is understandable considering Matthew Waterhouse drank too much the night before during filming. 🙂

Anthony Ainley is brilliant as the Master in this adventure. I like how Anthony Ainley’s Master is so gleefully evil throughout and when he uses Adric to set up the traps for the Doctor, Nyssa and Tegan to get into. I consider Anthony Ainley to be my favourite Master since he was the first one that I saw.

There are arguments that Anthony Ainley’s Master can be one-dimensional and seen as a pantomime villain throughout the series. But somehow that doesn’t bother me as Anthony Ainley is enjoying being the Master so much. He gets to wear a disguise that took me completely by surprise!

I enjoyed some of the concepts throughout this story by Chris Bidmead. The first two episodes of the story feature a lot of the TARDIS interiors which Bidmead liked using. There’s the introduction of the Zero Room in the story and the theme of recursion get used which is an intriguing concept to follow.

The city of Castrovalva was interesting to watch and visit in the story. It seems to be a beautiful paradise for the Doctor to rest in until the city folds in on itself. Apparently Chris Bidmead’s inspiration to create the ‘Castrovalva’ worlds was from the artistic, geometric works of M. C. Escher.

I like the CGI effects version of ‘Castrovalva’ very much on the Blu-ray edition for this story. Compared to the original effects for the TV story, the CGI version is superior especially when showing the castle-like structure on the outside and showing the recursive occlusion for its interiors.

The Castrovalvans are as follows. There’s Derek Waring as Shardovan, who calls himself the librarian of Castrovalva. Shardovan seems a mysterious and suspicious person and could easily be the villain of the story. But as the Doctor uncovers more on Castrovalva, there is more to Shardovan than that.

There’s Michael Sheard as Mergrave, who is like a medical doctor in Castrovalva since he owns a pharmacy. Michael Sheard has been in ‘Doctor Who’ before in stories like ‘The Ark’; ‘The Mind of Evil’; ‘Pyramids of Mars’ and ‘The Invisible Enemy’. I always remember him in this ‘Doctor Who’ tale.

There’s also Frank Wylie as Ruther, who has the air of a bank clerk on Castrovalva. Ruther, Mergrave and Shardovan are the three characters that the Doctor and friends interact with the most in this story. There are the washer women as well, but they don’t say much and they tend to be rather silly.

The most important Castrovalvan of all is Neil Toynay as the Portreeve. The Portreeve appears to be a friendly, elderly man and seems to be what you would call a mayor of Castrovalva. I liked the Portreeve as a character and Neil Toynay’s performance. I am surprised this is his only acting role. 😀

The original DVD special features were as follows. There was the ‘Swap Shop’ interview with Peter Davison and the ‘Blue Peter’ interview with Peter Davison. There was also the ‘Directing Castrovalva’ interview with director Fiona Cumming and the ‘Being Doctor Who’ interview with Peter Davison. There was ‘The Crowded TARDIS’ documentary and some deleted scenes from the story. There were also BBC continuity announcements and trailers for the story; a 1980s theme music video; a photo gallery of the story; a ‘Radio Times Listings’ PDF of the story; a ‘Doctor Who Annual 1982’ PDF and an info-text commentary option to enjoy. There were also three audio options. There was a mono sound audio mix option for the story; a DVD audio commentary with Peter Davison, Janet Fielding, writer Christopher H. Bidmead and director Fiona Cumming. There was also an isolated music option by Paddy Kingsland to enjoy. There was also an Easter Egg to look out for on the DVD, which was actually the Lord Mayor’s Show Parade item with Peter Davison and some ‘Doctor Who’ monsters.

On Disc 1 of the ‘Doctor Who – The Collection – Season 19’ Blu-ray, the ‘Swap Shop’ interview; the ‘Blue Peter’ interview; the ‘Directing Castrovalva’ interview; the ‘Being Doctor Who’ interview; ‘The Crowded TARDIS’ documentary; the deleted scenes; the 1980s theme music video; the ‘Radio Times Listings’ PDF; the mono sound audio mix option for the story; the DVD audio commentary; the isolated music option and the Lord Mayor’s Show Parade item can be found on there. The info-text commentary option and the photo gallery for ‘Castrovalva’ have been updated for 2018 on the Blu-ray. The BBC continuity announcements and trailers for ‘Castrovalva’ are meant to be updated for the Season 19 Blu-ray, but there’s a fault with the audio for the updated version. There’s a corrected updated version of the BBC continuity announcements and trailers for ‘Castrovalva’ with the audio intact on the ‘K-9 & Company: A Girl’s Best Friend’ Blu-ray disc for the Season 18 Blu-ray box set to enjoy. The ‘Doctor Who Annual 1982’ PDF isn’t included on the ‘Castrovalva’ Blu-ray disc for the Season 19 Blu-ray box set. It is now included on the ‘K-9 & Company: A Girl’s Best Friend’ Blu-ray disc for the Season 18 Blu-ray box set and on the ‘Time-Flight’ Blu-ray disc for the Season 19 Blu-ray box set.

The new special features on Blu-ray include the making-of documentary ‘Time Trap’ with cast and crew interviews. There’s also the ‘Behind the Sofa’ feature on ‘Castrovalva’ with Peter Davison (the Fifth Doctor); Sarah Sutton (Nyssa); Janet Fielding (Tegan) and Matthew Waterhouse (Adric) as well as Mark Strickson (Turlough) and Sophie Aldred (Ace). There are also three parts of raw studio footage from ‘Castrovalva’ to enjoy! 😀 There’s the ‘Pebble Mill At One’ interview with Peter Davison that’s taken from the ‘Logopolis’ DVD and the ‘Saturday Night At The Mill’ interview with Peter Davison that’s taken from the ‘Four To Doomsday’ DVD. There’s also the clean opening and closing titles for Season 19 of ‘Doctor Who’ that’s taken from the ‘Resurrection of the Daleks’ DVD and the CGI effects option for the story to enjoy on the Blu-ray disc. There’s also the ‘coming soon’ DVD trailer for ‘Four To Doomsday’ with Peter Davison, Janet Fielding, Sarah Sutton and Matthew Waterhouse (taken from ‘The Trial of a Time Lord’ DVD).

On the PDF front, as well as the ‘Radio Times Listings’ of the story, there are also production documents and scripts for the story. You need a special Blu-ray computer drive for that.

‘Castrovalva’ is a lovely beginning to the Peter Davison era of ‘Doctor Who’. It sets up the adventures of the Fifth Doctor, Nyssa, Tegan and Adric very well as they embark on more adventure in time and space. I was looking forward to seeing more stories of these characters after watching ‘Castrovalva’.

It wouldn’t just be in the TV series though. I would later be listening to the adventures of the Fifth Doctor TARDIS team with Nyssa, Tegan and Adric through the Big Finish audios. Season 19 and the Big Finish audios of ‘Doctor Who’ are what made me love the Peter Davison era of the series overall.

As for the ‘New Beginnings’ trilogy overall, I found it tremendous! ‘The Keeper of Traken’, ‘Logopolis’ and ‘Castrovalva’ are very enjoyable and a thrilling collection of stories to depict the beginning of a new era of ‘Doctor Who’ from the closure of Tom Baker’s era to the beginning of Peter Davison’s era.

I found the ‘New Beginnings’ trilogy worth watching, especially with the regeneration of one Doctor into the next. It was also worth watching as I would grow to love my favourite ‘Doctor Who’ companion, Sarah Sutton as Nyssa. I especially did enjoy seeing Nyssa again for the Blu-ray box set of Season 19!

‘Castrovalva’ rating – 8/10


Originally written on the 9th of September 2016.

This is a response to the ‘The Crowded TARDIS’ documentary.

This was on the ‘Castrovalva’ DVD from the ‘New Beginnings’ DVD box set of ‘Doctor Who’. The short documentary focused on the TARDIS team of Season 19 from the classic series of ‘Doctor Who’, including the Fifth Doctor, Nyssa, Tegan and Adric.

In this article, I will be sharing my thoughts and feelings of the Season 19 TARDIS team and identifying what the strengths and weaknesses of the team were. This will be an enjoyable article for me to write and I hope to make reference to the Big Finish audios and books as well as the TV series.

First things first, here my thoughts on what I make of the actual DVD documentary, ‘The Crowded TARDIS’, on the ‘Castrovalva’ DVD. I love that documentary as it features behind-the-scenes interviews with the cast and crew including Tom Baker (the Fourth Doctor); Peter Davison (the Fifth Doctor); Sarah Sutton (Nyssa); script editor/writer Christopher H. Bidmead and director John Black.

I love seeing the documentary with Sarah Sutton in it. It was interesting to hear Sarah share her thoughts about the set-up of the Season 19 team and how there were problems with the TARDIS being so crowded as well as identifying the positives on it. I enjoyed Peter Davison’s comments on the TARDIS being crowded and it was good Tom Baker shared his thoughts on the crowded TARDIS.

Anyway, let’s talk about the Season 19 TARDIS team itself. The issue of the Season 19 TARDIS team was in how many companions were assembled at the end of ‘Logopolis’ with Tom Baker’s Doctor before he regenerated into Peter Davison. The three companions have very distinct personalities and they all made their first appearances in the TV series of ‘Doctor Who’ in Tom Baker’s last season.

But what were the circumstances of the TARDIS being crammed with companions at the end of Season 18? At that time, producer John Nathan-Turner had just started his run of producing the show and had made many radical changes to the show at the turn of the 1980s. One of these changes was the departure of Lalla Ward’s Romana and K-9 Mk II in ‘Warriors’ Gate’ of ‘The E-Space Trilogy’.

The introduction of the Fifth Doctor companions in Season 18 went on these lines. Adric first appeared in ‘Full Circle’, the first story of ‘The E-Space Trilogy’; Nyssa first appeared in ‘The Keeper of Traken’, the penultimate story of Season 18 and Tegan first appeared in ‘Logopolis’, the season finale of Season 18. All three companions assembled in ‘Logopolis’ to see Tom Baker’s Doctor depart from the series.

I honestly don’t know what the real reason or logic was to have three companions at the end of Tom Baker’s era to carry on forward into Peter Davison’s era. Peter’s theory in ‘The Crowded TARDIS’ documentary was that producer JNT wanted three companions to ease the transition from one Doctor into the next and just in case Peter’s Doctor didn’t work out so well in the end.

I presume that maybe JNT was attempting to evoke something of the original William Hartnell era by having three companions with the Doctor. That was what happened with the First Doctor when he had three companions including Ian, Barbara and Susan from ‘An Unearthly Child’ onwards. This also applied with Patrick Troughton’s Doctor when he had Ben, Polly and Jamie in Season 4 of the show.

However the problem with trying to evoke that same TARDIS team from the 1960s into the 1980s is that you have less time to develop the characters in shorter action-packed adventure stories that the series has developed into. With the 1960s stories of ‘Doctor Who’, more time was developed on the characters of Ian, Barbara and Susan, since the stories were longer by either six or seven episodes.

Also, the story-handling of ‘Doctor Who’ in the 1980s was very messy and disjointed, since script-editors kept changing during the making of Season 19 and producer JNT wasn’t a writer himself. The production order of stories in Season 19 was also random as it began with ‘Four To Doomsday’, then ‘The Visitation’; then ‘Kinda’, then ‘Castrovalva’, which made development of the TARDIS characters very disjointed.

Anyway, enough of that! Let’s talk about the actual characters of the Fifth Doctor, Nyssa, Tegan and Adric. Despite the inconsistencies of character development, I really like these four characters of ‘Doctor Who’. This is helped by the camaraderie shared between the four actors playing them and giving very good and enjoyable performances. It was interesting how they bounced off each of their characters.

I agree with Sarah Sutton’s comment that the teamwork of Five with Tegan, Nyssa and Adric works better than the teamwork of Four with Tegan, Nyssa and Adric. Tom Baker clearly stated in the documentary that he preferred working with just one companion including the likes of Sarah Jane, Leela and Romana. Also, I don’t think Sarah, Janet and Matthew would have coped well working with Tom Baker.

Tom was notorious for being a temperamental actor, despite being a great actor to play the Doctor. Also Tom had been playing the Doctor for seven years by the time the 1980s arrived and he was getting very opinionated about how the show should be instead of how the new production team thought it should be made. This partly resulted in the reason why Tom decided to quit the TV show.

From reading Matthew Waterhouse’s memoirs of ‘Blue Box Boy’ and hearing the interviews with Janet, Sarah and Matthew about Tom Baker, I can understand why they would prefer to work with Peter Davison instead of Tom. Peter was a fresh face for ‘Doctor Who’, having come off working from ‘All Creatures Great and Small’. He’s also a generous actor as he clearly embraced the ensemble of fellow actors.

From watching Season 19, Peter’s Doctor was clearly a fresh start and a complete contrast to Tom Baker’s Doctor. Peter was approaching the Doctor from a new angle. It took a while to decide on what angle it was, but he was willing to have his Doctor take an interest in his companions and the stories. He didn’t command with so much authority as Tom Baker had done with his era of the show.

The way that Peter’s Doctor interacted with his companions was interesting. Adric, Nyssa and Tegan were each different and the Fifth Doctor had accommodated on a way to handle them with different approaches. This is true in the case of Tegan, who he sometimes found difficult to cope with as she was always complaining about wanting to get back to Heathrow Airport and not travel in the TARDIS.

Janet Fielding’s Tegan was the invention of producer JNT as the companion for the 1980s with Peter Davison’s Doctor. I must say that while I like Tegan and found her interesting as a companion, I don’t agree with JNT’s vision for what a ‘Doctor Who’ companion should be. Peter Davison is on the same lines as me, as producer JNT’s vision for a companion was to be very combative and argumentative.

What I think makes a ‘Doctor Who’ companion work well is that she or he should be compassionate, caring and very easy to like. Nyssa certainly fulfils those qualities of a ‘Doctor Who’ companion for me as do Sarah Jane Smith and Rose Tyler. Tegan doesn’t exactly fulfil those qualities as a ‘Doctor Who’ companion. This is for the fact that Tegan never wanted to be in the TARDIS once she arrived.

However, I must say that Tegan’s journey as a companion in Season 19 is very interesting. She starts off from wanting to go back to Heathrow Airport at the beginning of Season 19. This is clear in how Tegan behaves in ‘Four To Doomsday’. But by the time we get to ‘Black Orchid’, Tegan announces she wants to ‘stay with the crew for a while’ and asks the Doctor to stop taking her back to Heathrow.

This was a nice development for Tegan’s character, as it shows how she’s changed her mind about travelling in the TARDIS since the beginning of the season. Not sure why or how she came to changing her mind, but it’s something for Big Finish to address I suppose. Eventually by the end of ‘Time-Flight’, Tegan is clearly indecisive about whether to stay at Heathrow or go off into the TARDIS.

I actually like this development in Tegan’s character. Her bursting into tears at the end of ‘Time-Flight’ clearly shows how she’s enjoyed being in the TARDIS, despite the dangers she’s faced, and that she’s a different person to how she was at the beginning. It’s such a shame that her argumentative nature wasn’t mellowed by the time she reunited with the Doctor and Nyssa in ‘Arc of Infinity’ in Season 20.

Now we’ve come to the bit that I’ve looking forward to – Sarah Sutton’s Nyssa, who is my and Peter Davison’s favourite ‘Doctor Who’ companion. Nyssa is clearly the definite companion role model in ‘Doctor Who’ for me. She demonstrates the compassionate, caring side that I look for in a companion, and she’s also nice, friendly and tries to be helpful when she can to support the Doctor.

Nyssa is also an alien, a Trakenite, from the planet Traken. It’s interesting to note that the Season 19 team is a multi-national TARDIS crew in ‘Doctor Who’. While the Doctor is Gallifreyan, Tegan is human; Nyssa is Trakenite and Adric is Alzarian. It is hard to see the difference as the four heroes seem human. I’m reminded of lines said between the Tenth Doctor and Lady Christina from ‘Planet of the Dead’.

Lady Christina: “You look human.”
Tenth Doctor: “You look Time Lord.”

Anyway, as well as being from Traken, Nyssa is also a scientist, specialising in the field of bioelectronics. Whilst I’m not into science like Nyssa is, I’m pleased that her character shows her to be very intelligent and clever, compared to Tegan who isn’t so clever and is an Australian air hostess. Nyssa is also the daughter of a high-ranking Consul of Traken and is born from an aristocratic family.

Sadly for Nyssa, she suffered a lot at the time she joined the Doctor, since her father was murdered and taken over by the Master and her home planet of Traken was destroyed. But unlike Tegan, Nyssa doesn’t go into an emotional rage. She tries to be calm and shrug off the dangers and horrors she faces. This is sometimes confused with poor character development on Nyssa by many.

But if you watch the TV stories closely and listen to the Big Finish audios with Nyssa in them, it’s clear that Nyssa is trying to be very brave and not lose control of her emotions when she sees something terrible happening on her adventures in the TARDIS. Also, as stated in ‘The Haunting of Thomas Brewster’, Nyssa tries to honour the memory of her parents by not grieving for them but to be happy.

Nyssa’s role in the TARDIS team of Season 19 is essentially to be the referee. Whilst Tegan and Adric are companions that the Doctor finds difficult to cope with, Nyssa is the one who tries to ease the tension and be the sort of ‘mother’-figure among the family of the TARDIS team. It’s also clear that Nyssa is the companion that the Fifth Doctor’s closest to and most fond of compared with Tegan and Adric.

By the way, I like how the Fifth Doctor gives roles to his companions whilst he’s in the Zero Room in ‘Castrovalva’. The Doctor calls Tegan the ‘co-ordinator’; Nyssa the ‘technician’ and Adric ‘the navigator’. I thought it was great of writer Christopher H. Bidmead to give these companions such roles. It’s such a shame that their roles are never addressed again in the latter stories of the season.

Now it’s time to talk about whom everyone has been waiting for – Adric, the mathematical boy genius from Alzarius. I must say I was rather disappointed that Adric wasn’t touched much upon in ‘The Crowded TARDIS’ documentary on the ‘Castrovalva’ DVD. All that’s touched on was that one companion had to go, then a clip of Adric’s death in ‘Earthshock’ was shown and that’s it. That doesn’t seem fair.

Matthew Waterhouse as Adric is a companion that was meant to appeal to younger viewers who were watching ‘Doctor Who’ at the time of the 1980s. It backfired however, as many fans hated Adric and found him annoying. I was quite surprised when I found out how many people hated Adric, especially since I first saw him in his final story ‘Earthshock’ when I was getting into the classic series.

Now whilst Adric tended to be annoying and a brat in his time on the TV series, I admit I don’t mind him as a character or a companion in ‘Doctor Who’. No, the problem with Adric is in concept. Originally Adric was conceived as an Artful Dodger-type character with a mathematical brain. Now that’s a very difficult character description to work on, no matter how hard you try to bring it to life.

I did wonder why having a teenage boy with a mathematical brain would appeal to younger fans of the show when they were watching it. Adric was like Wesley Crusher from Star Trek: The Next Generation’, except he was written to be ‘dodgy’. I also wonder why have an Artful Dodger-type character. Why not Oliver Twist? Oliver Twist is actually more appealing than Artful Dodger to me.

Another problem with Adric was that he was a companion that didn’t have much character development during his time on the series. Every time we saw him, he was always the same: immature, annoying and brat-like. It did seem that the writers on ‘Doctor Who’ didn’t have the initiative to progress the character forward into coming-of age during the series, as he remained the same.

However saying that, there were times where Adric could be pretty good in ‘Doctor Who’ stories. Most specifically he was good in ‘The Keeper of Traken’ as writer Johnny Byrne wrote well for him as a companion. Also Adric was very helpful to the Monitor when he read out numbers from a print-out in ‘Logopolis’. And he was helpful to the Doctor when they were disabling the bomb in ‘Earthshock’.

Mind you, there were times when Adric can sometimes seem stupid and useless in ‘Doctor Who’ as writers approached him. I’m thinking in particular of ‘Four To Doomsday’ when Adric stupidly believed that Monarch was wonderful and he tried to side with him. Eventually the Doctor talks Adric out of it in order to save Nyssa and he helps the Doctor when they try to get the TARDIS back.

Also Adric seemed to be siding with Hindle in ‘Kinda’ and managed to get out of a prison cell with the Doctor and Todd. But eventually it turned out that Adric was trying to get the key off from Hindle in order to set the Doctor and Todd free. It failed miserably of course, but at least Adric was trying his best. It echoes something he tried to do in order to rescue Romana from the vampires in ‘State of Decay’.

So yeah, Adric can be annoying and useless at times when he was in ‘Doctor Who’. But I’ve seen a lot worse regular characters in ‘Doctor Who’ and other TV shows and movies. So I don’t mind Adric so much as many other fans do. Adric isn’t one of my favourite ‘Doctor Who’ companions admittedly, but I do like him in a strange way and feel sorry for him since he had a sad tragic end in ‘Earthshock’.

The decision to kill Adric off in ‘Earthshock’ was done out of lessening the TARDIS crew with companions for the Doctor. This was something that the production team had problems with when dealing with companions. Early on in the season, they had Nyssa stuck in the TARDIS for most of ‘Kinda’, as a way of giving Tegan and Adric to do more. This seemed unfair, as I wished Nyssa was in ‘Kinda’ more.

I would have thought that having removed Adric from the TARDIS team it would mean more stories featuring the Doctor, Nyssa and Tegan for the rest of the Fifth Doctor era. Instead, the production team did the same mistake again by adding Turlough to the team in Season 20 and eventually removed Nyssa from the TARDIS. This was rather shoddy for me, but I’m getting ahead of myself here.

I would have liked to have seen more of the Season 19 TARDIS team intermingling with each other and become very good friends with each other. They started being dysfunctional at the beginning, especially with Tegan wanting to go home and not getting on well with Adric. I’m glad that Jonathan Morris addressed the TARDIS regulars working together as a team in the audio story, ‘Psychodrome’.

There are rare times in the TV series when the TARDIS regulars were enjoying themselves. I liked how the companions got to enjoy themselves in ‘Black Orchid’, when they attend the fancy dress ball at Cranleigh Hall and also when they see the Doctor playing cricket in the same story. I’m pleased that the Season 19 team mellowed towards each other and liked each other more before Adric’s death.

It also seemed like there was a soap-opera atmosphere being created among the TARDIS team regulars of Season 19. This is especially when Tegan’s bickering and complaining a lot with either the Doctor or Adric. I’m not sure if it was the approach producer JNT was going for when he was making the show in his time, as there was that silence at the close of ‘Earthshock’ inspired by ‘Coronation Street’.

I sometimes get frustrated when some writers of ‘Doctor Who’ in books and audio get the wrong interpretation of the Season 19 characters. This seems to be the case with Gary Russell’s novel ‘Divided Loyalties’ and Paul Magrs’ audio ‘The Boy That Time Forgot’ where he wrote for an older Adric. I’ve written my own story with the Fifth Doctor, Tegan, Nyssa and Adric and I hope I’ve done them justice.

To wrap up, the Season 19 TARDIS team of ‘Doctor Who’ is one of my favourites. I like the performances of Peter Davison, Janet Fielding, Sarah Sutton and Matthew Waterhouse as the Fifth Doctor, Tegan, Nyssa and Adric. Despite their faults, this TARDIS team has enabled me to embrace my fandom of ‘Doctor Who’, as I enjoy seeing and listening to their adventures both on TV and audio.

I’ve had the pleasure of meeting Peter Davison, Janet Fielding, Sarah Sutton and Matthew Waterhouse at ‘Doctor Who’ conventions. I hope you’ve enjoyed my article on ‘The Crowded TARDIS’ and that you have found it informative and entertaining.

Doctor_Who_Castrovalva  targetbook_castrovalva2 


Please feel free to comment on my review.

Going Deeper Into The Recursive Occlusion

I thoroughly enjoyed this novelisation/audiobook of ‘Doctor Who – Castrovalva’!

This is another richer, in-depth exploration and experience of a TV story that begins a new era of ‘Doctor Who’ with such style and quality that is unlike any other. It explores more into the world of Castrovalva and it describes the ins and outs of recursion as well as the recursive occlusion in greater detail.

I’ve had the CD cover of the ‘Doctor Who – Castrovalva’ audiobook signed by Peter Davison at the ‘Regenerations 2016’ convention. I enjoyed chatting with Peter about this audiobook. Peter recalled how challenging it was to read something like this and I concurred as there was a lot of detail in the story.

‘Castrovalva’ was novelised by Christopher H. Bidmead, the original author of the tale. The book was published in 1983, a year after the story’s initial transmission in 1982. It is Chris’ second contribution to the Target range of novelizations and it features the debut appearance of Peter Davison’s Fifth Doctor.

This book has been turned into a BBC audiobook and is read by Peter Davison. The audiobook was a 4-disc CD set with the novelization divided into 12 chapters. Each of the four CD discs has 3 chapters that comprise one of the four episodes of the TV story. So 3 chapters; times 4; equals the 12 chapters found in the book.

I purchased the Target novelization of ‘Castrovalva’ at the now deceased Up-Close ‘Doctor Who’ exhibition in Cardiff in 2008. I soon purchased the ‘Castrovalva’ audiobook at the ‘Regenerations 2010’ convention in Swansea, September 2010. After enjoying ‘Doctor Who – Logopolis’, I wanted to enjoy a similar experience with the audio.

Beforehand, I read ‘The Fact of Fiction’ article on ‘Castrovalva’ in an issue of ‘Doctor Who Magazine’. I was able to pick up certain points and changes in the visualisation of the story from watching ‘Castrovalva’ in the ‘New Beginnings’ DVD box set. This gave me a better understanding of the story.

The story picks up from where ‘Logopolis’ ended and starts with Adric saying, “He’s changing! The Doctor’s regenerating!”, before we have a dynamic action opening sequence where the Doctor and his companions are escaping. It was pretty exciting to read and listen to, especially with Peter narrating it.

Chris Bidmead writes a delightfully in-depth novelization of the story that introduces the Fifth Doctor well. His use of language and character development is impressive as I tapped into the minds of Tegan, Adric and Nyssa. Chris does well in describing the ins and outs of recursion and structure in ‘Castrovalva’.

Peter Davison was a joy to listen to. He’s a great narrator and this was the first time I heard Peter read a ‘Doctor Who’ audiobook. Peter would go on to read ‘Doctor Who – Earthshock’. Here he kept me enthralled and I love how Peter does the voices for Tegan, Adric, Nyssa and the Master as well as for the Fifth Doctor.

Recursion is very strong theme throughout the novelization. I did an IT course with one my modules focusing on recursion. I found it confusing at first, but with help from an IT lecturer, I was able to get some understanding of what recursion was about with examples of burgers and pizzas to help me. 😀

There’s some lovely additional dialogue in an extended scene between Nyssa and Tegan where they’re trying to find the index file. I liked Tegan’s definition of an ancestor and Bidmead’s use of a picture of a hand drawing a hand. Art is also a special theme in the story where it concerns recursion.

I like how Chris utilises M. C. Escher when depicting Castrovalva. Chris has dedicated this book to Escher’s works of art. He’s delved into the integral workings of the occlusion and builds the tension and drama of something frightening. I don’t fully understand Escher, but it’s by no means invigorating.

I found Adric being connected to the Master’s hadron web quite graphic, as it emphasises how much he suffers. The theme of block transfer computation continues from ‘Logopolis’ in the novelization. Adric’s insecurity about Nyssa and Tegan was interesting as it portrayed his arrogance and immaturity.

I really enjoyed how Nyssa and Tegan’s friendship gets formed throughout the novelization. Chris Bidmead plays on the dialogue between Nyssa and Tegan when they work out how to escape Event One and find a way to Castrovalva. Tegan’s bossiness is well-balanced as well as Nyssa’s calm, reassuring presence.

The Doctor’s recovery from his regeneration is well-written. There is a sense of confusion within the Doctor’s mind since he tries to figure out who he is. The moments of the Doctor acting like the previous Doctors and the mentions of previous companions are omitted in the novelization from the TV story which I found disappointing.

There are more corridors of the TARDIS featured in the novelization and Bidmead describes the Zero Room well in his introduction of it as well as on architectural configuration. The tension builds on how Nyssa and Tegan jettison the TARDIS rooms since they wonder whether they’ll jettison the console room as well.

The paradise of Castrovalva is very soothing when reading and listening to the story. It puts the reader under a false sense of security. I enjoyed reading and hearing the Italian-like atmosphere of Castrovalva in the book and how the characters of Ruther, Mergrave, Shardovan and the Portreeve are depicted.

The background music and the sound design are the same ones used for the ‘Doctor Who – Logopolis’ audiobook. This is because both stories are in a continuous vein and BBC audiobooks wanted to use the same music and sounds in both stories since they are linked in being written by the same author.

‘Doctor Who – Castrovalva’ is wonderfully narrated by Peter Davison. It’s a great audiobook and experiencing these classic Fifth Doctor stories in book/audio form has been great. I’ve also enjoyed audiobooks like ‘Doctor Who and the Visitation’ and ‘Doctor Who – Black Orchid’ which I highly recommend.

‘Doctor Who – Castrovlva’ rating – 8/10

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12 thoughts on “‘Castrovalva’ (TV)

  1. Timelord007

    Fantastic review Tim & again i love how you compare the transmitted tv episodes to the Target novel/audio.

    Your review’s take me back to 1982 all over again, i remember being extremely nervous at seeing a new actor as the Doctor but i was soon won over by Peter’s excellent performances.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Tim Bradley Post author

    Thanks Simon.

    I’m pleased you enjoy my Nyssa reviews in ‘Doctor Who’. I’m glad you approve of how I compared the TV stories with the Target novels/audiobooks. They are interesting to compare, both TV story and Target novel/audio. This is especially true in the case of Christopher H. Bidmead who delves deeper into his stories and makes them work better in the novels compared to the TV versions.

    I’m glad my review of ‘Castrovalva’ took you back to 1982 again. I’m sure it must have been a nervous time for you to see Peter taking over as the Doctor from Tom Baker. I’m glad he won you over, as he’s a very good actor, especially from his appearances in ‘All Creatures Great and Small’.

    Thanks again for your comments, Simon. Glad you enjoy my ‘Doctor Who’ reviews.

    Tim. 🙂


  3. Elinor

    Ah, Castrovalva, what a lovely little story you are ^_^

    While I don’t know much about recursion and all that, I could grasp enough to not be confused by the story. I really liked the setting of Castrovalva and even the exploration of the TARDIS in the early episodes.

    The guest cast was great and I do also appriciate Nyssa’s and Tegan’s relationship alot in this. Really, it was quite the girl power story, at least for the first couple episodes, as the girls had to take charge of the action, when Adric got captured and the Doctor was in a vulnerable state.

    I also ‘have a thing’ with seeng usually very strong characters being vulnerable. So, having that happen with the Doctor in this really got to me, but in a good way.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Tim Bradley Post author

    Thanks Elinor. I enjoyed reading your thoughts on ‘Castrovalva’. I’m glad you like it and find it a ‘lovely little story’. 🙂

    I remember having to learn about recursion for my IT degree back in 2009. I’ve forgotten most of the stuff I learned, but it was fascinating and interesting especially when trying to understand it for my IT degree and when I re-watched ‘Castrovalva’. Chris Bidmead’s novelization/audiobook on the story certainly provides information on the themes of recursion and on the works of Escher that influenced ‘Castrovalva’ throughout the story.

    Yes, this story was easy to grasp compared to ‘Logopolis’. Thankfully because it was a story about regeneration and the aim of the story was trying to see that Peter Davison’s Doctor got better as he was weak from his regeneration, it made it watchable; enjoyable and easy to follow. I’m glad you like the setting of Castrovalva and exploring more of the TARDIS in this story.

    Yes I liked the guest cast in this story. Nyssa and Tegan’s friendship is well-established in this story. I liked it when they worked together to help the Doctor through his regeneration, escaping Event One and reaching Castrovalva. They certainly stand out as characters in this story compared to ones later on. Because the Doctor was inactive for most of the story, they were able to have their own voices and use their own initiative. I felt sorry for Adric who got captured by the Master and put in that horrible web.

    Yes poor Doctor indeed. It was interesting to compare both Peter Davison’s debut story with David Tennant’s debut story. Both were quite similar when they were suffering and recovering from regeneration, weren’t they?

    Thanks again Elinor. Glad you’re enjoying my reviews on these Nyssa stories.

    Tim. 🙂


  5. Timelord 007

    Excellent blu ray edition, arh 1982 i remember it like yesterday, watching the first episode & being completely enthralled by the opening episode.

    Getting nostalgic again Tim.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Tim Bradley Post author

      Hi Simon.

      Glad you enjoyed my updated Blu-ray review on ‘Castrovalva’ and that I’ve got you feeling nostalgic again. 😀

      I’ve enjoyed revisiting Season 19 on Blu-ray and enjoying the new special features on it, especially the new making-of documentaries with Peter Davison; Sarah Sutton; Janet Fielding and Matthew Waterhouse as well as the ‘Behind the Sofa’ features. The more Sarah Sutton there is on these ‘Doctor Who’ Blu-ray releases, the more happier I am. 😀

      I especially enjoyed the ‘Time Trap’ making-of documentary for ‘Castrovalva’ and how Peter and Matthew recreated that running scene at the end of the story as a joke for Matthew’s getting drunk incident.

      Tim. 🙂


  6. Williams Fan 92

    I love this review Tim.

    I finished watching part 4 of this story a few minutes ago and it was very enjoyable. This was my second viewing of ‘Castrovalva’, the first was on Britbox and the third will be on Blu-Ray again with the updated special effects. I hope that I will love Season 19 as much as you do when watching the rest of it.

    I like how it sets up the Tardis crew for the rest of the season. Nyssa and Tegan had great chemistry especially when they were concerned for Adric. In my opinion for the moment, I’d say the companion trio all have their own strong points. You and others say that Tegan and Adric weren’t great companions, but I actually think there were moments were Nyssa was underplayed. For example, when Nyssa found out that the Master had killed her father, I don’t think she showed a great deal of emotion. In contrast, Tegan actually burst into tears when she learnt of the death of her Aunt Vannesa. Then again it was early days for Nyssa’s character and she did show emotion when Traken was destroyed so eh, what do I know.

    P.s. I managed to purchase Doctor Who: the Collection, Season 18 today.

    Take care, WF92.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Tim Bradley Post author

      Hi WF92,

      Very pleased you enjoyed my review on ‘Castrovalva’. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on the story. Hope you’ll enjoy the story with the new CGI effects option on Blu-ray. I don’t recall saying Tegan and Adric aren’t great companions. I just feel Nyssa fared better than Tegan and Adric considering she’s more companion-worthy and wanted to be in the TARDIS whereas Tegan and Adric tended to complain and moan in certain stories. Despite that, Tegan and Adric have their good moments and I have enjoyed them in their stories both TV and audio. I agree, it is odd that Nyssa didn’t express a lot of emotion over the Master killing her father but did with Traken being destroyed (although it was rather fleeting) compared to Tegan bursting into tears over her Aunt Vanessa’s death. I think Nyssa is more restrained in her emotions compared to Tegan, though she would get better in expressing her emotions through the Big Finish audios. I’m looking forward to how Nyssa will react to Sir Derek Jacobi’s Master in the ‘Killing Time’ box set coming soon from Big Finish.

      Very pleased you were able to purchase Season 18 of ‘Doctor Who’ on Blu-ray. Hope you enjoy that as well as Season 19.

      Many thanks for your comments.

      Tim. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Williams Fan 92

        One more thing I forgot to mention in the original post. I was very intrigued to see Michael Sheard in this story. It’s always interesting to see actors known for Star Wars pop up in Doctor Who. It’s a small world I suppose. 😀

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Tim Bradley Post author

        Hi WF92

        I believe I’ve reviewed Michael Sheard in every ‘Doctor Who’ story he’s been in, except ‘The Stones of Venice’ by Big Finish with Paul McGann. I must get around to reviewing that someday. 😀

        Many thanks,

        Tim. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

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